- - Sunday, October 3, 2010


Lula ex-aide leads, but must face runoff

BRASILIA | Brazil’s presidential election is to go to an Oct. 31 runoff after the ruling party candidate, Dilma Rousseff, won elections Sunday but not by enough to avoid a second round, the High Electoral Tribunal said.

Ms. Rousseff won 47 percent of the ballots Sunday — short of the absolute majority required to win without a runoff against second-placed challenger, former Sao Paulo governor Jose Serra.

“We can confirm there will be a second round in the presidential elections,” Ricardo Lewandowski, the president of the High Electoral Tribunal, told reporters in Brasilia.

Ms. Rousseff, 62, is the hand-chosen successor to popular President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, whom she served as chief of staff and energy minister.

With 97.5 percent of the votes counted, Ms. Rousseff has 46.6 percent, to 32.8 percent for Mr. Serra, putting an outright win out of her reach.


Poll: Most Pakistanis oppose U.S. drone strikes

An overwhelming majority of Pakistanis living in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) oppose U.S. drone strikes and military operations against al Qaeda and the Taliban in the region along the Afghan border, according to a new survey.

The poll, conducted by the New America Foundation and Terror Free Tomorrow, found that more than three-quarters of FATA residents oppose U.S. drone strikes and nearly nine out of every 10 people polled oppose the U.S. military pursuing al Qaeda and the Taliban in the region.

While opposed to U.S. military action, FATA residents do not embrace al Qaeda or the Taliban and believe the Pakistani army alone should tackle these militants, the survey found. More than three-quarters of them actually oppose al Qaeda’s presence in the region and more than two-thirds oppose the Pakistan Taliban.

The poll found significant opposition to the U.S. military, with almost six in 10 surveyed saying suicide attacks against American troops are justified. The majority of Afghanistan’s suicide bombers in Afghanistan come from the FATA.


Mitchell: Palestinians want peace talks to continue

AMMAN, Jordan | The Palestinians want peace talks with Israel to continue, U.S. envoy George Mitchell insisted on Sunday, as he visited Egypt and Jordan in a last-ditch effort to salvage fledgling direct negotiations.

“Despite their differences, both the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority have asked us to continue these discussions in an effort to establish the conditions under which they can continue direct negotiations,” Mr. Mitchell told reporters after meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

“They both want to continue these negotiations, they do not want to stop the talks,” he added.

The Middle East envoy, who has been touring the region since Tuesday, flew to Amman from Cairo on Sunday, in his effort to rescue the faltering peace process.

The U.S.-backed negotiations, which began on Sept. 2, have been on the brink of collapse since Israel refused to extend a 10-month moratorium on new settler homes in the West Bank that expired a week ago.

The Palestine Liberation Organization, an umbrella group that includes most Palestinian factions except the militant Hamas, on Saturday urged President Mahmud Abbas to withdraw from the talks over continued Israeli settlement construction.


Grenades, kidnappings roil bloody weekend

MEXICO CITY | Northern Mexico was shaken by a weekend of violence, with 34 deaths blamed on drug cartels and a series of grenade attacks that injured a dozen people, officials said Sunday.

Twelve people were hurt in a late-night grenade attack at a busy plaza outside Monterrey, according to officials who said it was one of four bombings to rock the industrial border city over the weekend.

Authorities said Sunday that the grenade was thrown by unidentified assailants about 11 p.m. Saturday near the town hall in Guadalupe, a suburb of the bustling city near the border with the United States.

Earlier Saturday, three explosive devices were detonated, including one near the U.S. consulate and another not far from a prosecutor’s office that wounded a guard. The blasts damaged roads and nearby vehicles, said police, who have yet to identify suspects.


Sunni sees Iraq facing ‘last chance’ for democracy

MOSUL | An Iraqi governor and leading Sunni politician said Sunday that the nation’s “last chance for democracy” could be derailed if the Shiite prime minister keeps his job despite losing to a Sunni-backed coalition in elections seven months ago.

Ninevah provincial Gov. Atheel al-Nujaifi’s warnings show the serious challenges to U.S.-led efforts at bringing Iraq’s rival groups together in a unity government. Establishing a workable democracy in Iraq became one of the main U.S. goals of the 2003 invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

In an Associated Press interview, the governor claimed Iraq is “headed for a dictatorship” if Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki manages to hold on to power by making alliances with hard-line Shiite factions and Kurds.

“This is the last chance for democracy in Iraq,” Mr. al-Nujaifi said in an hourlong interview in his office in downtown Mosul, about 225 miles northwest of Baghdad. It is Iraq’s third-largest city and a former al Qaeda stronghold.

His comments underscore the deep suspicions and frustrations among Iraq’s once-dominant Sunnis, who lost their privileges with Saddam’s fall but had hopes of regaining a significant political voice after the narrow victory of a pro-Sunni coalition in March’s parliamentary elections.

Mr. al-Maliki has stepped up appeals for top Sunni figures to join talks over the next government, but has so far been met with silence or defiance. The Sunnis say they do not trust him.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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